March TBJ: Tablets Make Partner for Trial Work

Online tools and software geared toward lawyers aren’t new, but in the Tennessee Bar Journal's March issue Stephan Futeral says we are past the days of dragging the laptop into court. In the “Post-PC” era, tablet computing is a game-changer for the 21st-century practice of law -- and you need to be in the game. You can end your week with a laugh as Bill Haltom looks back fondly on the days when he wasn't carrying an iPad, but took the World Almanac to court in his briefcase. Read these and more in the new issue of the TBJ.

Today's Opinions

Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format.

00 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
04 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
00 - TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders

You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


H. Reid Poland, III, for the Defendant-Appellant, Jamey Ray Christy.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Reid Poland, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Jamey Ray Christy, was convicted by a Montgomery County jury of aggravated child neglect, a Class B felony; voluntary manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and aggravated assault, all class C felonies; and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon involved, a Class E felony. The trial court merged the voluntary manslaughter and vehicular homicide convictions and imposed concurrent terms of eight years’ confinement for the vehicular homicide and aggravated assault and three years’ confinement for the reckless endangerment. The trial court imposed a consecutive term of ten years’ confinement for the aggravated child neglect conviction, for an effective sentence of eighteen years. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction of aggravated child neglect. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Guy R. Dotson, Jr., Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Baleke Kromah.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Laural A. Hemenway, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Baleke Kromah, was indicted by the Rutherford County Grand Jury for five counts of sexual battery by an authority figure. He was subsequently convicted by a Rutherford County Circuit Court jury of count three and was acquitted of the remaining counts. Kromah was sentenced to ninety days of imprisonment followed by four years of probation. On appeal, Kromah argues: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, and (2) the trial court erred in failing to order the State to make an election of offenses at the close of the State’s proof. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


B. Lynn Morton (at trial), Clarksville, Tennessee; William (Jake) B. Lockert, III, District Public Defender, and Drew W. Taylor, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal), for the appellant, Eddie Leroy Rowlett.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Dan M. Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; and Suzanne Lockert- Mash, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Eddie Leroy Rowlett, was convicted by a Stewart County jury of aggravated assault and resisting arrest. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective six-year sentence. In this direct appeal, the Defendant challenges (1) the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the entry into his home and his subsequent detention and arrest violated his Fourth Amendment rights; (2) the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions; (3) several evidentiary rulings, including the admission of certain photographs and limitations on establishing a “criminal trespass” defense; and (4) the jury instructions, arguing that a special instruction should have been given for the State’s failure to disclose the deputy’s telephone records, and that instructions on self-defense and defense of others should have been included in the final charge to the jury. Because the evidence of serious bodily injury was insufficient, the Defendant’s conviction for aggravated assault is reversed and modified to a conviction for Class A misdemeanor assault. The judgment for resisting arrest is affirmed. The case is remanded for resentencing.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender; and Terry L. Jordan, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Michael L. Snodgrass.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and Julie R. Canter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Michael L. Snodgrass, appeals the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s order revoking his judicial diversion for a charge of theft of property valued at less than $500 and imposing a split confinement sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days, with ten days to be served in jail. On appeal, he contends that the court erred in sentencing him to split confinement and imposing a requirement that he serve 75% of his sentence before eligibility for work release, furlough, trusty status and related rehabilitative programs. We affirm the denial of full probation but reverse the judgment and remand for entry of a judgment that deletes the special condition that the Defendant to serve ten days “flat” and specifies the percentage of his sentence he must serve before eligibility for rehabilitation programs.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Linda Gass, Blaine, Tennessee, pro se.

Bruce T. Hill, Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellee.


The appellant, Linda Gass (“Heir”), an heir to the Estate of Tandy Nathan Dalton, appeals from an order of the trial court entered on October 30, 2012, which determined that certain specifically described real property upon which Heir lives is an asset of the estate and may be sold by the appellee, Barbara D. Carmichael, the Executrix of the decedent’s estate (“Executrix”), pursuant to the terms of the decedent’s will. Because it is clear that the jurisdiction of this Court was not invoked properly, this appeal is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joseph F. Welborn, III, and Jason W. Callen, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Corrections Corporation of America.

Andrew C. Clarke, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Alex Friedmann, Individually and as Associate Editor of Prison Legal News.


This is the second appeal in an action seeking settlement agreements and settlement reports from Corrections Corporation of America pursuant to the Public Records Act, Tennessee Code Annotated § 10-7-301 et seq. In the first appeal, this court determined that CCA is the functional equivalent of a governmental entity in operating correctional facilities and remanded the action to the trial court to determine whether the documents requested by the petitioner fell within the statutory definition of public records set forth at Tennessee Code Annotated § 10-7-301. On remand, CCA refused to turn over two categories of documents, settlement agreements and settlement reports, arising out of inmate litigation, arguing that they did not fall within the statutory definition of public records and are confidential. CCA additionally argued that the settlement reports are protected as attorney work product. The trial court held that both the settlement agreements and reports are public records, that the settlement reports do not constitute attorney work product, that CCA is required to produce the settlement agreements and reports, and that the petitioner is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 10-7-505(g). We affirm the finding that the settlement agreements are public records and that CCA is required to produce the settlement agreements. We also affirm the trial court’s findings that the settlement reports are public records and that CCA has failed to demonstrate that the settlement reports were produced “in anticipation of litigation;” therefore, the reports are not attorney work product and CCA must produce the reports. Further, we affirm the award of attorney’s fees incurred at trial that pertained to requiring CCA to produce the settlement agreements. Finally, we find the petitioner is entitled to recover attorney’s fees and expenses incurred on appeal to the extent they pertain to the settlement agreements, but not the settlement reports. On remand, the trial court shall make the appropriate award.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joel Stephen Mills, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher L. H. H.

Gregory D. Smith and Rebecca K. McKelvey, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Krissa L. S. B. and Marc T. B.

Stephanie P. Edwards, Nashville, Tennessee, as Guardian ad Litem for, Thomas L. H. H.


The trial court terminated Father’s parental rights to his child, who was born addicted to drugs and with extensive medical needs, on the ground of persistence of conditions; Father, who was incarcerated when the child was born, appeals, contending that the termination of his rights is not supported by clear and convincing evidence. We have determined that the evidence shows that the Father’s lack of participation in the care of the child and the treatment of the child’s medical needs constitutes neglect; that the neglect persists and is reasonably probable to continue; that it will not be remedied; and that continuation of the relationship would put the child at further risk, thereby diminishing the child’s complete integration into a safe and stable home. Consequently, we affirm the termination of Father’s parental rights.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James E. Robinson and Kathryn E. Sinback, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

Steven Rand Walker, Oakland, Tennessee, and Mark S. Beveridge, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Marisa R. Rowland et al.


In this case involving serious injuries sustained in a collision between a school bus and a pickup truck, the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s findings. We must, therefore, reverse the trial court’s judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.

Napier-Looby Bar Honors Members

Last night's 9th annual Napier-Looby Bar Foundation (NLBF) Barrister’s Banquet and Awards Program featured entertainment, honors and awards. The event was presided over by NLBF President Joseph K. McKinney, with Luther Wright serving as master of ceremonies. Those honored include Federal District Judge William J. Haynes, Jr., who received the 2013 Z. Alexander Looby Lifetime Achievement Award; Stacey Garrett of Bone McAllester Norton, who received the J.C. Napier Trailblazer Award; and Charles Grant of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, who was the recipient of the Justice A.A. Birch Outstanding Service Award. For more details, visit the Napier Looby website.

Inmate Indicted for Threatening Letters

A prisoner at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville was indicted for sending threatening letters to the governor that falsely claimed to contain anthrax, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release today that Brandon Frady of Johnson City sent out six threatening letters, four containing white powder he claimed was anthrax. Prosecutors said the letters disrupted government operations, causing the evacuation of the offices of the Nashville district attorney’s office and nearby buildings.

Tennessee Human Rights Commission Honors Local Advocates

The Tennessee Human Rights Commission, the state’s civil rights enforcement agency, celebrated its 50th anniversary last night by honoring 10 local human and civil rights advocates. Attendees at the sold-out event viewed a replica of the Emancipation Proclamation and the original 13th Amendment on display at the Tennessee State Museum. Honorees included attorneys Waverly Crenshaw, George Barrett and Rosetta Miller-Perry, as well as State Sen. Thelma Harper, D-Nashville. The Tennessean has the story.

Entries for Law Day Contests Now Being Accepted

The 2013 Law Day Art & Essay Contest is underway. Sponsored by the TBA Young Lawyers Division, the competition this year will center on the theme "Realizing the Dream: Equality for All." This provides an opportunity for students to explore civil and human rights movements in America and the impact they have had in promoting the ideal of equality under the law. Students also are asked to consider what remains to be done to rectify injustice in society, including eliminating all forms of discrimination, putting an end to human trafficking and ending other violations of human rights. Art and essay submissions depicting this theme must be submitted by April 12.

Vandy Names New General Counsel

Vanderbilt University has named Audrey Anderson as its general counsel, the Nashville Post reports. Formerly deputy general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security, Anderson will replace David Williams who served as the university’s general counsel since 2000 before becoming the permanent athletics director in mid 2012. Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Northwestern and her law degree from the University of Michigan. “I am deeply honored to have this opportunity to serve Vanderbilt and am excited to join the leadership team that is working on so many important initiatives,” she said.

Woman Sues FedEx over Mistaken Marijuana Delivery

A Massachusetts woman has sued Federal Express for mistakenly sending her a package containing seven pounds of marijuana, then giving her address to the intended recipients, who later came to her home to retrieve the package. The woman told the men she did not have it and called the police. Although an arrest was made, the woman is worried about retribution. The suit claims that by disclosing her address, Memphis-based FedEx violated her privacy and put her and her children in danger. FedEx said it does not comment on pending lawsuits. The Commercial Appeal has the story. 

Students Raising Money to Compete in National Civics Program

A team of Hillsboro High School students has earned the right to represent Tennessee in the 26th Annual We the People National Finals, and is now seeking financial support to make that possible. The team needs to raise money to cover travel costs associated with attending the civics competition and participating in a five-day educational program in Washington D.C. To help support the team, contact Hillsboro High School teacher and team sponsor Seth Swihart at 615-298-8400 or send your contribution to him at Hillsboro High School, 3812 Hillsboro Road, Nashville, TN 37215.

Speak Up!

More than 700 Tennessee lawyers have already completed the TBA's 2013 survey. Make your voice heard today by taking about 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire that was recently emailed to you. The results will be tabulated and analyzed by Yacoubian Research of Memphis/Nashville. Please be assured that the results will be presented in aggregate form so that your individual responses can remain anonymous and confidential. If you did not receive the survey or have other questions about it, contact TBA Membership Director Kelly Stosik.

Services This Weekend for Collierville Lawyer

John H. Harris, Jr. died yesterday (Feb.28) at the age of 74. A Tulane graduate, Harris received his law degree from the University of Tennessee. He was a senior partner and long-time leader of Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC, where he practiced for over 50 years. Harris was also partners with his son Jeffrey in Harris Thoroughbreds LLC. Visitation will be Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at Memorial Park Funeral Home, with funeral services Sunday at 3 p.m. at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Collierville. In lieu of flowers, the family asks memorial contributions be made to St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Church Heath Center.

Ticketing Bill Loses Support

Four lawmakers who had been listed as co-sponsors of House Bill 100, the Fairness in Ticketing Act, have pulled their support from the measure, the Tennessean reports. Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, and David Hawk, R-Greenville, have removed their names from among the bill’s 26 co-sponsors. Rep. Lynn said in a release, “I think many of us signed on as sponsors before realizing what it would do to citizens’ ownership rights or its negative impact on small business. In my case, I have not only decided to be removed as a sponsor, but to become a vocal opponent.” The act seeks to impose stricter regulations on event ticketing practices and the ticket resale market.

Opinion: Too Soon to Undo Affirmative Action

State Rep. Brenda Gilmore uses an opinion piece in the Tennessean to blast Republicans in the General Assembly for introducing legislation to do away with affirmative action in Tennessee colleges and universities. In the article, Gilmore says that it is too soon to prohibit schools from considering factors of race, gender or ethnicity when it comes to admissions, faculty hiring or contracting since race and gender bias still exists in our society.

Obama Urges Court to Overturn Prop 8

The Obama Administration filed a friend-of-the-court brief Thursday evening unequivocally calling on the Supreme Court justices to strike down California’s Proposition 8 ballot measure banning gay marriage. It marks the first time a U.S. president has urged the high court to expand the right of gays and lesbians to wed. The brief is not legally binding, but the Commercial Appeal reports that the government’s opinion could carry weight with the Supreme Court when it hears oral arguments on Prop 8 in late March.


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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.

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